One of CLAMP's longest-running manga (stalled at 18 volumes out of a planned 21 since 2003, with a few further chapters making a "Volume 19" never published in a tankoubon), X is the story of Kamui Shirou - a boy destined to save the world... or destroy it. He is drawing the Dragons of Heaven, who are attempting to preserve the world as it is, and the Dragons of Earth, who wish to eliminate humanity's taint, to Tokyo. Guided by Hinoto, a dreamseer (yumemi), the Dragons of Heaven attempt to preserve the seven barrier structures situated around Tokyo. Kamui must decide if the world is even worth saving, and then choose sides... But what of the dreamseer's prophecy that there is another Kamui?Note about the title: The true title of this series is simply X. The manga was retitled as X/1999 for release in America by Viz to prevent confusion with an American comic book series also named X.note Viz's onmibus rerelease of the manga, though, goes back to simply being called X. The 1999 portion comes from the year the story takes place.There are actually two separate animated versions of X: the 1996 movie, which is a great deal of action and way too much information compressed into an hour and a half, and the 2001 television series, which at 24 episodes had more time to actually develop the plot and featured a very different ending. Both are missing elements from the most recent manga chapters, suggesting yet a third very different ending.The characters of Subaru, Seishirou and Hokuto originated from another CLAMP manga, Tokyo Babylon. Although it is sometimes referred to as such, Tokyo Babylon is not a Prequel, since the series predates X and the stories are independent. It is, however, helpful to know the plot of Tokyo Babylon before reading their subplot."Forever Love" by X Japan (which also used to go only by X before they hit it big outside Asian market) was written as a theme song for this anime, and is the ending theme for The Movie.Not to be confused with the 4XSpace Simulator series X, the Nintendo tank game X, a reploid, or with the '80s L.A. punk band X
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
Bitter Sweet Ending: The ending of the anime series: Kamui deploys a Thanatos Gambit in which his mortally-injured body turns into a barrier that reverses the damage by the Dragons of Earth, saving it from destruction in the process, while Fūma returns to his original self. In the last scene of the series, those characters who survived appear living happily: these include Arashi, Yuzuriha, Kusanagi, Aoki....
Cherry Blossoms: Subverted from their usual tenderness and love aspect, they are the creepy symbol of the onmyouji assassin Sakurazukamori - also known as Sakurazuka Seishirou. This is also somewhat of a departure from CLAMP's other works, which generally use the conventional cherry blossom symbolism.
Date CrÍpe: Seishirou invites Fuuma to go get crepes with him (having just finished blowing up a major train line and a large skyscraper). His reasoning is that if they are going to destroy all of Tokyo, then they might as well get to sample delicious foods first. It's very romantic, in a creepy way.
Death by Childbirth: Subverted, since Tokiko, Saya and in the movie Ill Girl Kotori die after giving birth to sentinent swords called, Shinken.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Karen is a pyrokinetic, Aoki has powers over wind, Yuuto manipulates water, Kusanagi has a power related to earth, Sorata seems to have an affinity with lightning as well as his esoteric Buddhism powers.
Empathic Weapon: Played straight with the Shinken, but later on subverted; even though the two Shinken can be wielded properly only by Kamui and are shown to be genetically identical to human beings and are somehow understood to be "crying" in grief over humanity's gruesome destiny to be decided during the Final Battle, Kamui ultimately seals the power of the Shinken so that Fuuma, who has awakened as his Twin Star and is attempting to kill him, cannot use the first Shinken against Kamui, rendering the Shinken's power null and void for roughly half the series.
Emotionless Girl: Arashi is essentially this crossed with a Deadpan Snarker, her usual response to Sorata being "...". She does gain more emotion as the series goes on and when this happens, it's her downfall, as she either dies (movie) or pulls a Face-Heel Turn (TV series, probably manga) Note that her Face-Heel Turn is halfhearted at best, and in the anime it results in the destiny that she was trying to prevent by changing sides. You Can't Fight Fate, you know?
The hiatus-ridden 19th Chapter has Evil Hinoto claiming that she's going to make Arashi Brainwashed and Crazy to join the Dragons of Earth. Which makes... as much sense as her willing changing sides, I guess?
Emphasis on the "As We Know It" part. Basically, the Dragons of Heaven are fighting to protect mankind, and the Dragons of Earth want to wipe out mankind to save the Earth from the evils of man. The great thing about this story is that no one is in it For the Evulz... Except Yuuto. Maybe, because it is Yuuto.
Evil Albino: Subverted; Kamui is at first downright hostile toward the white-haired Princess Hinoto, but she turns out to be a pretty gentle person. Until, of course, it's revealed that Hinoto has a latent Evil Twin persona residing within the depths of her soul who gathered the Dragons of Heaven together solely so that she could dispatch them each to their own ironic deaths. Oh, CLAMP.
Also eventually subverted with Nataku, who was less "evil" and more "didn't know better, stopping killing, and then performed a Heroic Sacrifice for Karen."
Eye Scream: Subaru. Because it's not a CLAMP manga until someone loses an eye.
Face-Heel Turn: Arashi becomes a Dragon of earth, though it is subverted in that she did it to protect Sorata from his pre-ordained death, and in the anime eventually rejoins the Dragons of Heaven.
Also, Subaru replaces Seishirou as a Dragon of Earth in the manga. OTOH, it's unclear as to whether he really accepts the offer to change sides. He takes the offer to become the Sakurazukamori, but as to whether that means he's going to act as a Dragon of Earth isn't shown. Though he is shown in the half volume 19 to be with Fuuma during the Final Battle, apparently to help Kamui realize his "true wish".
Friend to All Living Things: Kotori, Yuzuriha and Kusanagi, notably subverted in that the latter is a middle aged man in the Self-Defense Force.
And that Kusanagi is a Dragon of Earth, which makes him more of a "Friend to All Living Things Other Than People." The trope does not apply at all in the movie, in which Kusanagi - one of the characters most altered by the adaptation - comes across as more of a violent thug and helps kill Yuzuriha without ever establishing a relationship with her.
Genki Girl: Nekoi Yuzuriha, though not nearly so over-the-top as most instances of the trope.
Geodesic Cast: Seven Dragons of Heaven on the good guys' side, and seven Dragons of Earth on the bad guys' side. Plus two dreamseers who are sisters on each side.
Gorn: Most deaths in the Manga are extremely gory, often with the intestines coming out. In example, Kotori's death by stabbing and dismembering was so bad that the TV series drew the line at the "dismembering" part.
Several deaths from the movie aren't exactly pleasing to watch either. DAMMIT, YUUTO!
Hacker Cave: The headquarters for the Dragons of Earth, built around the supercomputer Beast.
Heel-Face Turn: In the TV series, Dragon of Earth Kusanagi threatens to kill Fuuma for trying to finish off Yuzuriha. Later he defects from the Dragons of Earth to protect an injured Yuzuriha. Arashi's U-turn applies here as well.
In the manga, Nataku also makes a Heroic Sacrifice to protect Karen. It's sort-of explained in that she looked like the mother of her past self Kazuki and she tried to reach for him before his death.
Heroic Albino: Princess Hinoto. Subverted, as she's genuinely heroic... but her Superpowered Evil Side is more or less planning to allow mankind to be wiped out so that she can continue to be the Dreamseer. Hinoto herself is pretty horrified at that idea.
Heroic BSOD: Several characters, most notably Kamui after Kotori is brutally killed.
Also, Subaru. For the second time in his history, though the first was before X began in a series called Tokyo Babylon.
Also, TV series!Hinoto, who stabs herself to death to kill her Superpowered Evil Side and save Sorata and Kamui.
Hey, It's That Voice!: More of a Hilarious in Hindsight if you're a fan of the Digimon Frontier dub, in which the voice actors of Kamui and Fuuma play long lost brothers. However, in this story, Fuuma goes from being neutral to bad to good rather than his path in X. Bonus points for the voice actress of Kotori playing their only female teammate.
Invisible to Normals: The battles are contained in alternate reality pockets called kekkai, or barrier fields. However, the damage to the real world becomes quite real if the person who created the barrier is killed. See: Phantom Zone.
Kill 'em All: Definitely in the movie, where everybody but Kamui is dead by the end. And it seems the manga might be heading towards that, too.
The manga, not so much, considering several beaten Dragons are still alive and kicking. But yes, in every version there are several casualties. The anime is particularly light on the casualties , so the manga seems to be walking the line between the two.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Though it's treated as a major surprise when it happens, the fact that Fuuma pulls a Face-Heel Turn and becomes the main antagonist is pretty evident after one look at the official art of the opening of the TV series. It's also foreshadowed pretty heavily in the manga, but the twist is in how it happens: Kamui is forced to pick which side he wants to fight on, without knowing that his decision will compel Fuuma to fight for the opposite side, no matter what. And his decision is based on his desire to protect Fuuma and Kotori. OW. It's little wonder it puts him in a Heroic BSOD that requires a Journey to the Center of the Mind to snap him out of it.
Love Makes You Evil: Subaru becoming the Sakurazukamori after Seishirou's death in the manga, although it's not loving him that do it so much as getting tricked into killing him. Also, if we count sibling love, in the manga and the movie Kanoe's motivations to lead the Dragons of the Earth is her love for her sister Hinoto, whom she wants to free from her Blind Seer position which is tightly tied to her leadership of the Dragon of Heaven.
No Ending: The last manga chapter was released in 2003. CLAMP last seriously talked about the series in 2005, saying they were still looking for a publisher to handle the series. The increasingly violent content in the series created problems as some of the events ended up very reminiscent of real-world disasters at the time. Now that we're a decade in, it's seeming increasingly likely that CLAMP has simply moved on and will leave the series unresolved.
No Endor Holocaust: Averted, and in a series where the destruction done by the battles can be retconned out of existence by way of barrier fields, no less. Lets you know how rough the fights usually are on the heroes.
Odd Friendship: Yuzuriha (a schoolgirl) and Shiyuu Kusanagi (a middle-aged man in the Self-Defense Force).
Friendship. Riiiight. Yuzuriha definitely has a crush on him. For the most part he acts like a responsible adult though.
Oedipus Complex: Seishirou, who had an... interesting relationship with his mother, Setsuka before he killed her and took over her position.
Off Model: The anime. Apparently QUALITY faces are a side effect of the Shoujo Armageddon.
And this is despite being a work by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who is known for mostly averting this.
Older than They Look: Seishirou's mother looked barely the same age as him when he was a teenager, which he lampshades in the dramas. Also, Hinoto (she definitely doesn't look older than Kanoe).
One Steve Limit: There's a Seiichirou (Aoki) in the Heaven Dragons and a Seishirou (Sakurazuka) in the Earth Dragons. To avoid confusion, the former is commonly referred by his surname.
Ordinary High-School Student: Fuuma and Kotori at first, subverted with Kamui, who in the anime series used his powers to fight other kids. In the manga, the younger Seals try to keep up this cover story by transfering to CLAMP Academy. Subaru does a REALLY poor job of passing for an Ordinary College Student.
Keiichi is a more straight example.
Parental Abandonment: Several cases, ranging from simply sad to downright terrible: Poor Saya and Kyougo.
Perpetual Molt: Both Kamui and Fuuma, apparently, to produce the huge number of loose feathers drifting through Important Scenes.
Single-Stroke Battle: Definitely in the X movie, much less in the TV series which has time and SFX monies for big fight scenes. The TV series was closer to the manga in terms of fight length.
Shadow Archetype: One interpretation of Fuuma's strange anti-Christ character is that he's a reflection of Kamui's darkest thoughts and desires.
Shoot Your Mate: More like "run your mate through". With your hand. Seishirou can give you tips on proper technique. And also Fuuma, who seems intent on running his pal Kamui through with that 5-foot long sword of his. Best friends: always there to kill you off with a giant pointy thing in the CLAMP universe.
Subaru, his twin sister Hokuto, and Seishirou are from a series called Tokyo Babylon.
Slap Yourself Awake: Karen drugs Aoki in order to take his place in an upcoming duel she believes he won't survive. Aoki stabs himself in the leg with a kitchen knife to keep himself awake long enough to stop her. She still dies.
Sword Fight: With capes and living swords for the fate of the world, no less.
Talking to Himself: Or, in this case, herself. Wendee Lee, in addition to playing main character Karen, voices both of Kotori's friends in the English version.
Take My Hand: Kamui has two scenes in which this trope is used, they are parallel: in both he saves Kotori from plummeting to her death, once when they were both children in a flashback sequence and later during the story proper.
In the movie, he gets an extra one to save Yuzuriha to plummet to her death during their fight against Yuuto and Kasanagi.
Taking You with Me: Karen to Yuuto in the TV series. It seems to fail when she dies, but he ultimately perishes as well. In the movie, Subaru to Seishirou, Karen to Shougo and Aoki to Nataku. Not yet invoked in the manga. Notice the yet.
Tarot Motifs: There was an actual X tarot deck produced as a promotional item, and all the major characters are associated with one of the major arcana cards.
Too Soon: Cause of several publication hiatuses during the initial run of the manga, and possible cause of the current hiatus as well. Thematic elements like the decapitations and seismic disturbances bore coincidental but unsettling resemblances to real-life events such as the Sakakibara murders and the Great Hanshin Earthquake, leading to the series being pulled from publication repeatedly. CLAMP denies Executive Meddling was responsible for the 2003 hiatus, stating that they themselves made the decision to cease publication as they were convinced the planned ending would not have been socially acceptable at that time. The global climate around urban terrorism and national security may have been a major factor in that decision.
It's interesting to note that in said series, in Acid Tokyo, Fuuma and Kamui are leading the opposite groups to what they do in X, which are, incidently the sides fate had destined them to fight on in X before Kamui decided to choose otherwise.